SECURITY BY DESIGN: BEST PRACTICES IN SECURE ENVIRONMENTS
Most commercial buildings begin with an architect and a designer. Outside, a landscaper or landscape architect will usually be tapped to provide the esthetic surroundings.
Open floorplans. Glass walls. Lots of windows. Outside, beautiful plantings.
These features may be pleasing to the eye. But they also can significantly compromise safety. Security would be greatly enhanced by including a security expert on the initial design team.
The Four Aspects of Designing for Safety
There are four key elements to corporate security:
- Access control, especially in shared spaces
- Landscape design that emphasizes security
- Interior design that mitigates potential threats
- Security-minded policies and procedures
Element 1: Access Control
Access control can be challenging when a building or campus is shared by different organizations. But there are several best practices that can mitigate the potential for security issues:
- Individual access control for each office or tenant
- A centralized communication system, such as a PA, to warn all occupants of potential or actual threats
- Building-wide access control, so only those who belong in the building can enter
- Security systems or personnel that can flag unusual activity
Consider, for example, the auto mechanic who was terminated at a West Coast auto dealership after weeks of poor performance, threats to co-workers, and other red flags. He went to his vehicle, retrieved a gun and returned, killing two former colleagues before committing suicide. Incidents such as this highlight what many businesses are now following as a best practice:
- Have employees park in a secure area with controlled access
- Restrict employees from visiting their vehicles during the workday or monitor employees who do so
Element 2: Exterior Design
Parking areas, pathways and landscaping should be designed with two goals in mind: perimeter security and elimination of hiding places.
Perimeter security means establishing layers of security, typically with multiple checkpoints and many opportunities to spot potential security issues. Ideally, this strategy positions the initial access control so that a would-be intruder would be stopped before being able to enter or penetrate a facility or campus.
For landscaping, the key is to eliminate not only hiding places for intruders attempting to enter the building, but also places where someone could attack or otherwise harm employees and visitors heading towards or away from the building.
Element 3: Interior Design
The same glass walls and bullpen-type seating areas that give a space a light and airy ambience have a serious drawback. In the event of an active shooter or other incident, employees have nowhere to hide. Walls, offices and secure doors make it possible to hide from an intruder.
Employees have three options when confronted by an active shooter: run, hide or fight. Interiors should be designed to maximize all three of those options. In addition, entrances should have a holding area that can be secured to prevent an intruder from entering the inner offices.
Element 4: Policies and Procedures
None of these steps, of course, will effectively mitigate potential security threats without employee training in the proper policies and procedures to spot and react to security issues.
For organizations without an internal security chief, a security consultant that offers employee training can be an invaluable resource. Security training should be part of every new employee’s orientation, and refresher training should be mandatory and regularly scheduled.
For information on how Sunstates Security can use technology and personnel to provide greater security, or for an evaluation of your existing security systems and strategies, please call 866-710-2019 or email us.